The new sensors, described in the journal Angewandte Chemie, can detect tiny amounts of ethylene, a gas that promotes ripening in plants. Swager envisions the inexpensive sensors attached to cardboard boxes of produce and scanned with a handheld device that would reveal the contents’ ripeness. That way, grocers would know when to put certain items on sale to move them before they get too ripe.
These ethylene sensors could be a useful idea for a supermarket industry that loses about 10% of its fresh fruits annually. Especially given that the supermarket industry is now contemplating how to reduce its food waste.
My guess is that these sensors will sink or swim on affordability. At about $1 for both the sensor that detects ethylene levels and the RFID chip to communicate them, I’d say they’re on the right track.
I promise I don’t hate technology. I’m not writing this on parchment paper in a cave. But when I read about this scannable, edible patch, I wasn’t thrilled.
A Tufts professor has created a patch made from gold (Gold?! ) and plastic (yum!) that your smarty talky gizmo smartphone reads to note how much bacteria is on your food.
As seen in the local news coverage, the patch is supposed to communicate both whether or not food is still good and also whether it may have a food borne illnesses like e. coli. I think the latter can be quite useful, but the former will lead to much edible food being tossed–like we see at the end of the news segment (Argh!).
The problem, as I see it, is that the sensors will enhance the notion that we aren’t able to tell for ourselves whether or not food remains good. And it’s not going to err on the risky side. Thus, it will encourage more discarding of edible food. A better, lower-tech solution, is to trust your senses instead, as the mom interviewed says she’ll just have to do while waiting the 3-5 years for the sensors to come out.
Note to TV producers: Putting an edible sensor on a banana peel isn’t the best.
It’s always nice to learn about food waste in a country we don’t often hear from. Today, we see a study on food waste in Finland.
Three quick thoughts on the report:
Finns waste less food than most Europeans/North Americans.
Finnish households produce more waste than any other sector (30-40 percent of the waste). But…I’m not sure if the study accounts for farm level waste. Food grown but not harvested usually tops home waste, but isn’t always counted in these studies.
I love how the study transforms food waste into its environmental impact. About 1 percent of Finnish greenhouse gas emissions come from food waste.
In another kind of challenge, Squawkfox is touting a $55 million Food Waste Challenge. The Canadian site is hoping its 37,000 readers commit to reducing their household waste to save $1,500 each. Definitely worth squawking about.
And finally, Aramark (minus the caps lock) toots its own trayless horn. Encouragingly, removing trays from all-you-can eat facilities is pretty much the norm.
April 20, 2012 | Posted in General|Comments closed
The Biebs recently trimmed his food demands in his tour rider, demanding less dressing room food at each concert venue. Perhaps the pop star made the change as a result of his mounting eco awareness. Or maybe it came in response to said rider being published on The Smoking Gun. (Four loaves of bread does seem a bit much.)
No matter the reason, seeing this quote appear in Seventeen, where it’ll reach plenty of adoring girls, is neat:
“Recently, there were so many things in my rider that went to waste, so I took a lot of things off my rider. Every day we were buying all this stuff and it was just sitting there. I got rid of it, I didn’t want to waste all the food.”
April 16, 2012 | Posted in Events|Comments closed
This just in from ConAgra, who illustrate that no detail is too small to consider, especially when you’re producing food on a large scale:
Plant leaders worked with Quality Assurance to determine that excess flour used to prevent dough from sticking to rollers could be repurposed. The new process will save 96.2 tons of safe flour from heading to a landfill annually.